RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – Since the beginning of the Covid-19 health crisis, the Mexican government has adopted a rather dubious strategy in communications to its population.
The Mexican authorities claim to have taken in their stride this new virus which has been plowing through the poorer part of its population. One has to wonder, though, how Mexico seems to have been mostly unprepared, as it could have easily see what was already happening within the borders of its powerful northern neighbor.
Indeed, Mexico has had many weeks to prepare for such an inevitability, as most countries that were hard hit by the new Coronavirus share similar traits.
Now with over 27,000 death across the land, Mexico is second only to Brazil in the Latin American death toll. Of course, it has a large population of 110 million, but a large portion of its territory is not really accounted for, so the current tally seems highly dubious, as many experts agree that the actual death number is far more then what the government is presenting. In fact, the way the Mexican authorities count deaths due to covid-19 is a bit strange, as it does not count individuals who have died due to a sickness which resembles Covid-19 but were hurriedly buried in the various municipal cemeteries (called Panteóns) that dot the country before they were tested.
Furthermore, the Mexican government had been stating since mid-March that the virus would plateau sometime in May. This has not proven true, as the official curve still shows that in the Mexico City area and its immediate surroundings, the peak has not yet been reached; rather, the curve shows instead a plateau which has remained steady for 22 days straight. That is odd; usually after the curve peaks, the decline is quick to appear. In fact the authorities are now saying that the virus will remain among the population through mid-October. This is also a rather strange prediction, as no one really yet knows if the virus will gain in strength or recede as the colder months appear in the fall.
Tijuana, one of the worst hit spots in Mexico, has officially had 1,900 deaths from the virus out of a suspected 9,000 cases. This figure is a very low estimate, as one has only to visit any Panteón to see how busy it gets all day long, as families come to bury their loved ones. Alongside each burial service lie dozens of new ditches, ready to receive newcomers. When asked, the burial workers tell you most of the people they are burying died of various types of causes, but not Covid-19.
How could that be? Grave diggers have never prepared so many rows of new tombs all at once. The truth is, many locals are dying from this new virus, but this is kept under wraps in order not to scare off tourists and businesses, and above all to show that the government has full control over this situation.
Furthermore, Mexico has now become the fastest growing Covid-19 deaths country on the planet, surpassing even the USA a few days back. Most serious studies show that Covid-19 is especially deadly on people with pre-conditions like diabetes and high blood pressure, diseases that come from obesity and poor diet. Many of these deaths are still being counted as from these other causes, not as due to Covid-19 complications. This rather blurred line, so far, does not allow for a detailed understanding of who dies from what. Rather, the federal government only counts as Covid-19 deaths and infections, those accompanied by data generated by laboratories that have conducted a coronavirus test. As a result, it is possible to argue that tens of thousands of Mexicans have also contracted the virus, and thousands have died from it, but are not being added to the country’s overall tally.
The Mexican Health authority has admitted recently that the overall count is most likely far under-reported, as the country shows over 213,000 cases and 26,300 death. With pressure coming from various news outlets, health specialists and other types of health organizations, the government has been forced to admit to such a grave reality
In truth, no one really knows if this virus will come back strongly during a second stage, as many unknowns still make it difficult to understand how this new virus functions and evolves. Mexico, like most Central and South American nations, could well see its health care system collapse if such large numbers continue to evolve. What we know for sure, however, is that governments need to manage both their fracturing economies and this health crisis. This fine line cannot be understated, as many so-called specialists focus too much on the health issue, not mentioning that a dead economy will also kill tens of thousands of people, for all kinds of grim reasons.